Donegal Sweaters

We’re on the cusp of sweater weather, and this fall, I’m most looking forward to wearing this grey "Donegal" knit from Inis Meain. I put Donegal in quotes because the sweater wasn’t actually made in Donegal, but rather, it’s reminiscent of the hallmark tweeds that come of that region. Those tweeds have flecks of color, which are allowed to glob onto the yarns in irregular ways. You learn about it in this wonderful video Jesse put together on Molloy & Sons, one of the region’s best mills.  

The nice thing about speckled sweaters is that you can wear them on their own with an oxford cloth shirt or a brushed flannel. I like hardier shirtings in this case because they have a visual weight that feels a bit more at home with such rugged looking knits. By itself, the flecks make the sweater a little more interesting than the smooth, plain-colored merinos you see everywhere else. At the same time, the pattern is also easy to pair with any kind of outerwear. 

This season, it seems everyone is selling a Donegal knit. Here are some you may want to consider, from most to least expensive. 

Over $300

Over $200

  • East Harbour Surplus ($265): A Japanese brand with Italian-made, American-inspired designs. These vintage-y looking cardigans fit really slim, so be sure to size up. 
  • O’Connell’s ($225): My favorite source for Shetlands. Well made stuff that stands up to abuse. Plus, O’Connell’s has a great pedigree that’s hard to beat. 
  • Oliver Spencer ($225): A slightly more interesting look piece. Pair this with more modern looking coats and jackets, and perhaps a slim pair of charcoal trousers.  
  • Epaulet (~$220): A popular brand among menswear enthusiasts. They just released some cabled Donegal sweaters with shawl collars and mocknecks. 
  • Alex Mill ($207): A new label headed by the son of J. Crew’s CEO, Mickey Drexler. Designs tend to be basic, but easy to incorporate into any wardrobe. This black Donegal sweater has a sort of chic look to it. 

Over $100

Under $100

Last night I watched the BBC documentary “The Perfect Suit.” It’s a breezy history of the men’s lounge suit. I particularly enjoyed the segment with Eric Musgrave, author of “Sharp Suits,” which details the history of the lounge suit. The designers selected were very interesting as well - Antony Price, who helped define the suiting aesthetic of the 1980s, and Paul Smith, who speaks with passion about finding ways to make a uniform special on a mass-market scale. It’s also chock-full of charming archival footage. The special paints with very broad strokes, and there isn’t a lot of insight in it, but it does get everything pretty much right.

I only wish I could muster 1/10th of the host’s wide-eyed naif credulity. I get it: he is baffled and confounded by suits. You can find his brief article about the suit here.

All I Want For Christmas: Paul F. Tompkins

Today we inaugurate a new series on - All I Want For Christmas.  Some of our favorite men will share with you one thing they’d love to get for Christmas this year.

Our first man: Paul F. Tompkins.  Paul’s one of the funniest men in America, and also a man rarely seen without a silk in his pocket.  His amazing new comedy album, Freak Wharf, is now available for pre-order.

"The only wardrobe-related item I want for Christmas is some sort of intestinal parasite that causes me to lose enough weight to fit into Paul Smith clothing. Does such a creature exist on Earth? Please, Santa, bring me whatever’s in that moon water! I am willing to take the chance that my mind will be controlled by moon monsters if I can wear one of those suits!”

Featured: Elephant Gray Check Jacket by Paul Smith